Controversy Clouds Itsaknockout’s Win Over Upstart in Fountain of Youth
Controversy Clouds Itsaknockout’s Win Over Upstart in Fountain of Youth: Disqualifications work on a scale in horse racing. When fouls occur near the finish line, a change to the order of finish occurs more frequently because stewards determine how the incident affected the order of finish. When the incident happens near the beginning, stewards seem hesitant because determining the effects in terms of race order involves some guesswork.
With the above logic in mind, Gulfstream stewards believe Upstart bothered Itsaknockout in the G2 Fountain of Youth at Gulfstream Park yesterday by coming into Itsaknockout late, resulting in Itsaknockout moving up to first after the change in order.
According to the Equibase chart, Upstart “drifted out through the final sixteenth.” For Itsaknockout, the chart footnotes state he was “carried out by the winner and checked through the final sixteenth and lost best chance.”
The win kept Itsaknockout’s undefeated record intact at three-for-three and earned the colt 50 qualifying points for the Kentucky Derby in May. Fifty points, unless something crazy happens, assures Itsaknockout’s spot for the Derby if trainer Todd Pletcher and owner Starlight Racing decide to enter.
Fractions for the Fountain of Youth went moderately, although perhaps the track played a touch slow. Bluegrass Singer took them through splits of 24.27 and 47.87 seconds before Frosted turned up the pressure and they hit six furlongs in 1:11.65. Bluegrass Singer faded, and soon Upstart led after some light bumping with Frosted. They went a mile in 1:38.98 before Upstart crossed the finish line over Itsaknockout in 1:46.28 for the 1-1/16th mile race.
Through the official track release, Pletcher expressed his belief that Itsaknockout was bothered.
“He crossed the finish line first, but definitely we got impeded a bit and Luis (Saez) had to stop riding for a couple strides. I don’t know how it would eventually affect the outcome,” Pletcher said.
Jockey Luis Saez also believed that some infraction took place.
“That was a tough decision. I did think (Upstart) would get taken down because he really bothered me,” described Saez. “When we came into the stretch, I felt like my horse wanted to run so I thought we’d win the race. But the other horse came out and bothered me.”
The connections of Upstart understandably disagree. Trainer Rick Violette gave a technical reason to defend his horse.
“Bad call. They (the stewards) have to understand that when the horse gets hit behind the girth, the only place the horse can go is to the right,” a disappointed Violette explained.
“The horse ran great, we just don’t get credit for it. Don’t know what’s next, but we might have to go to New York.”
Further confusing bettors, the winner of Race 12 Danish Dynaformer came outward and bothered Dreaming of Gold, yet the stewards let the call stand, despite the late timing of the foul. The stewards reserve the right to decide that the winner was the best horse, no matter how late the incident happened.
Would Upstart or Itsaknockout win without the trouble? The regular view on the YouTube link makes deciding difficult, although Upstart appeared in control.
On a positive note, Itsaknockout gives the impression of an exciting colt from powerful connections, and long distance sire Lemon Drop Kid does not hurt either. He needs further development to compete in the Derby, as Upstart technically still “defeated” him without the ruling, but Pletcher is the right trainer to encourage that early progress.